The revised directives include the option for schools to remove physical distancing requirements in classrooms, although students from Grade 1 upwards will still need to wear face masks indoors.
This change is likely to be welcome news to private school operators in particular as it allows for a return to full student capacities, but may be a disappointment for some families who had hoped for something closer still to pre-pandemic times. There have been growing expectations of masks being discarded altogether, following the March ADEK protocol update, which permitted mask removal in outdoor areas, as well as the removal of quarantine for contacts of positive cases.
ADEK has also directed that all students must return to in-classroom learning following the spring break. Only students considered medically ‘high risk’, with an attested medical report confirming their inability to attend school in-person, will not be required to physically attend school. This applies to unvaccinated students over the age of 16 also, who will now return to in-classroom learning, with the proviso of providing a negative PCR test every seven days.
The circular states that all students will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test result (from no more than 96 hours prior) upon their return to school, with students under 12 years-old having the option of a saliva test.
While unvaccinated students aged 16+ will be required to provide a weekly PCR result following their return to in-school learning, vaccinated students aged 16+, as well as teachers and other staff members, are required to test every 14 days.
For students, teachers and staff considered a ‘close contact’ of a Covid-19 positive case, this a requirement for testing on day 1 and day 7 or upon the onset of symptoms. Quarantine requirements were removed for close contact cases in March 2022.
Many parents will also be delighted to hear that classroom and bubble closure requirements are no longer be applicable. Schools will be required to close for three days should 15% or more of the student body test positive at the same time.